Goats, native plants help improve environment

Have you ever thought about the gaseous power tools and deafening equipment we’re using to landscape our yards? Or the decorative, non-native flora we’re introducing to surrounding life?

Beautifying our yards, open spaces and outdoor areas shouldn’t negatively impact the environment, right? 

Well, in reality, landscape-maintenance practices place a heavy toll on environmental and human health, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The site says that current landscaping practices result in the pollution of surface and ground waters; destructive flooding; compromised air quality due to noisy, polluting landscape equipment; and a significant amount of yard waste in landfills. Furthermore, the biodiversity of our ecosystems suffers when invasive, exotic plants are introduced.

So what should we do?

Sometimes, it’s necessary to clear native woodlands and natural habitats in areas where wildfires may threaten a population, or take action before nuisance weeds overrun other plants. But one alternative to irritating brush-clearing equipment is using something that’s 100-percent organic, natural and self-operating: Goats.

Yes, goats.

Using goats to clear roadsides and public lands of brush and weeds is hardly new, according to an article in The New York Times.  In Los Angeles, for instance, brush-clearing goats are “a summer tradition.” Roughly 120 South African Boer goats – 60 adults and 60 kids – gobble up grass and clear dry land, unperturbed by onlookers and nearby traffic (read more).

Other ways to practice natural or beneficial landscaping include:

  • Protecting existing natural areas – such as woodlands, wetlands, stream corridors and meadows – to the greatest extent possible
  • Selecting regionally native plants to form the backbone of the landscape
  • Reducing use of turf or lawns, and instead using woodland, meadow or other natural plantings
  • Reducing the use of pesticides
  • Composting to eliminate solid waste and replace the need for most fertilizers
  • Practicing soil and water conservation through stabilizing slopes and installing drought-tolerant species
  • Reducing the use of power equipment
  • Avoiding invasive, exotic species

For more ideas, visit the U.S. EPA’s Beneficial Landscaping site.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Goats, native plants help improve environment

  1. Erin

    There is a family of bunny rabbits at our house that help with the landscaping in our yard! Great article!

  2. Morgan

    Interesting….I was driving down freeway the other day and was shocked to see a lot of goats on a hillside that is normally empty. I wonder if this is why?